Anais is very special to me and has played many roles in the lives of my family. She is important to all of us for individual reasons, and she wears many hats. However, she’s worn the most hats for Christiano: youth leader, mentor, spiritual confidant, stand-in aunt, ministry director, fellow comedian, and, of course, the hat she wore best of all – friend. They had a special love and a unique and unbreakable bond. Anais has been a constant blessing to all of us, both before and after this tragedy. I am overwhelmed with love and gratitude for her, as I watch her keep Christiano alive for all of us. Here is her heart in and through her loss. Christiano would call this, ‘Beautiful.’
If someone were to ask me, “If Christiano ever passed away, how would you feel?”
I would innocently and honestly say, “I’d feel so sad and I would definitely miss him.” Little did I know how much I’d miss him, how much my heart would ache for his family, how much I’d miss him at random moments in life.
I see how I feel and how much I miss him and multiply it by 1,000,000,000 and imagine that is a glimpse into how much his mother, father, sister, and brothers feel.
My imagination runs wild; therefore, I’ve imagined myself interacting with Christiano several times. Sometimes it’s really nice and I find myself laughing, then sometimes I get in the weirdest lull.
I’ve imagined getting to heaven and trying to fillChristiano on all the things he’s “missed” in heaven: my wedding, my niece’s birth and how beautiful she is, my job, my family, friends, his parents receiving his college degree. He’ll listen, like he always has, and pulls me to show me all the amazing things in heaven. Without words he tells me, “ Anais, I didn’t miss anything! All that is great, but look where I’ve been!” We’d forget the rest and enjoy ourselves.That one made me smile.
I’ve imagined him at my sister’s baby shower: dancing, playing games, poking fun, talking to my brother-in-law, chit chatting it up with everyone and anyone willing to talk, making people constantly laugh, and unintentionally being the star of the show. That one made me cry.
I know he often felt misunderstood. I often feel misunderstood. I think about having that conversation with him, about being misunderstood, about it being OK to question. We would touch upon it every now and then, but I just want one more lengthy conversation. I think I forget about all the really good conversations we had, how many hugs we shared, how many laughs we’ve had because I want just one more.
I think we had more in common than I originally thought. Even if we didn’t, I’d like to think so and remember that…forever.
Someone asked me if I’ve ever felt grief like this, and I haven’t—not a death like this, not a passing that would probably affect my very being. Christiano changed, brightened, and inspired lives. What an honor to know a young man who loved like Jesus, what a pleasure it was to know him.